A UK visa is an authorised documentation, allowing international citizens the right to enter, stay temporarily or reside permanently in the UK. This visa is usually in the form of a stamp on your passport, or a permit by a UK embassy in your country of residence.
Having a UK visa will allow you to enter and leave the UK freely, as long as you meet the respective requirements of the particular visa which you hold. While there are many countries that allow their citizens to enter the UK without a visa, the rest of the world are likely to need one.
This article will help you to understand more about the different types of UK visas, it’s application process, and it’s procedures that are needed to obtain one.
Who Needs a UK Visa
There are various reasons why individuals may need to apply for a UK visa, including work, study, tourism, or family. For whichever reason you may have, you will need to apply for a specific visa. Before applying for a visa, you should check if you need a visa through gov.uk. This short questionnaire will help you find out what type of visa you may need. Do note that your application must be approved before travelling into the UK.
If you are travelling to the UK for a holiday, for up to 6 months, you may need to apply for a Standard Visitor Visa. Applying for a Standard Visitor visa will enable you to visit the UK for tourism, certain business activities, a short course of study or exchange, or for medical reasons. The UK visa policy allows for a visa-free entry for up to 6 months for particular nationalities, including EU and Commonwealth states. However, if your country does not fall into the list of countries included in the visa-exemption list, you will need to apply for a standard UK tourist visa. Do note that for stays longer than 6 months, everyone will need to apply for a visa regardless of nationality.
For a Standard Visitor Visa, you will need to prove that you meet the eligible requirements. This means you will have to show that you will leave the UK at the end of your visit and not live in the UK for extended periods through successive visits. You will also need to show that you are able to support yourself during your trip and able to pay for you return journey. If you are going to be going to the UK on this visa for business or studies, you will need to show proof of any business, institutions or activity (including medical treatment) you will be participating in.
If you are going to pass through the UK to your final destination, you may need a Transit Visa. Similarly, before applying, you need to check if you need one. If you do need a transit visa, you will have to prove that: you will be transiting to another country, you are able to enter your final destination, the purpose of entering UK is just to transit.
The type of transit visa you may need will depend on how you will be transiting in the UK — be it through the UK border control or not. You will be able to find this out through your airline you will be flying on. If you are going through the UK border control, you will need to apply for a Visit in Transit Visa, else, you will need to apply for a Direct Airside Transit Visa.
If you want to work in the UK, you can apply for a Work Visa. There are multiple different work visas, depending on your skills and qualifications, job offer, family matters, and what job you will be doing. The various work visas also depend on how long you will be working in the UK. Similarly to a standard visa, you should check what kind of work visa you will need through the questionnaire in gov.uk.
If you intend to study in the UK, your course, type and place of study will affect which visa you should apply for. If you intend to study a long course, you have to apply for a Student Visa. This visa needs to be sponsored by a licensed university or college. While if you are only intending to do a short course of study, less than 6 months, you should apply for a Standard Visitor Visa. Whereas a Short-term Study Visa will allow you to study an English language course in the UK for 6-11 months.
You are able to apply for a Family Visa if you wish to join your partner, or family member of someone who has a British citizenship in the UK. To apply for this visa, you will need to show that they are able to support you financially. This family visa will allow you to live with a family member residing in the UK for over 6 months.
UK Visa Application Process
The UK visa application process varies depending on the visa type you need to apply for. Applying for a UK visa can mostly be done online on the gov.uk website. Note that if you are intending to apply for a Student Visa, you will need to start the application process at least 6 months before your course start date. If you are intending to apply for other visas, other than a student or child visa, you will need to start the application process at least 3 months before your planned travel date. The decision for your visa will typically take 3 weeks after applying at the visa application centre, depending on which visa you apply for, so do give yourself enough time to apply.
When you apply, you will also need to prove your identity to show that you are eligible for an application. You can do this either through an appointment at a visa application centre or through the ‘UK Immigration: ID Check’ app on your phone. Once you have made an appointment at an appropriate visa application centre, you will be asked to provide your biometric information. This includes submitting your fingerprints and a digital photograph as part of your application process. Some application centres may need to keep your passport and documents while processing your application.
There is also a charge for each visa. This fee also depends on the type of visa you apply for. If you urgently await a visa decision, you are able to opt for a faster decision by paying more. If you intend to study, work or join a family in the UK for over 6 months, you will need to pay a healthcare surcharge. This surcharge fee will depend on the status of your visa and will need to be paid as part of your application.
As part of your application, you may also need to take a tuberculosis test, depending on the country you currently reside in. You are able to check if your country requires a TB test on the gov.uk page.
A Successful Application
Your results of your application will be sent either through letter or an email further explaining what necessary steps you will need to take next. If your application is successful, you will receive a sticker (vignette) that will be suck in your passport, and access of your immigration status online.
Do take note of what your visa entails. Holding a UK visa may forbid you from doing some activities, depending on the type of visa you hold. Some visas may not allow you to get a job, use public funds, study or staying without registering with the police. To know what your visa allows you to do, you can find them in the visa itself, the application form, a written notification, or attached in the passport.
Do find out what your visa enables you to do as any form of overstay or violation will be considered an act of offense.
A Denied Visa?
There are multiple reasons as to why your UK visa might get denied. These include, missing documents, mismatched information in your documents, insufficient financial means to support your trip, not meeting the English language requirement, and/or incorrect organisation of documents. Thus, do check that your documents are completed and filled in completely before submitting to avoid a visa denial.
If your application is rejected, you are able to reapply for the visa or challenge the denial. If you wish to appeal on Human Rights ground, you will need to have a strong basis to appeal. You can also appeal the denied visa through judicial review, if you have strong reason to believe that your application has been rejected irrationally.
Note that you will not get a refund for your application fee if your visa gets denied.
- https://www.gov.uk/standard-visitor-visa/eligibility ↑
- https://www.gov.uk/browse/visas-immigration/work-visas ↑